10 secret baptisms full of risk—and great joy!

June 20, 2022 by Tim Dustin in Persecution updates

Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of your life?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you believe that only through Jesus’ blood, you can enter Heaven after death?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you accept that you are sinful and you can only be saved by Jesus’ name?”

 

“Yes.”

As North Korean refugee Bon-Hwa slipped under the water, she couldn’t keep back her tears. The day she had waited for so long since she trusted Jesus in a secret Bible study was finally happening. For two long years, she had begged to be baptized.

Bon-Hwa’s secret baptism took some planning. She, a pastor and her Bible group leader traveled separately to an Open Doors safe house in a remote area. They didn’t want to risk her being caught and repatriated to North Korea.

In more than 60 countries around the world, believers like Bon-Hwa are taking life-threatening risks to make a public profession of their faith in Christ. Sometimes, as in Bon-Hwa’s case, only three people gather together; other times a small group is there to witness these spiritual milestones. Regardless of the circumstances, these holy moments are mixed with great joy and the knowledge that their decision to live for Christ will likely mean they will also suffer for Him.

Each time our field partners share a story, photo or video of new believers being baptized, we recognize both the beauty and gravity of that scene. We hope this collection of stories, photos and videos encourages you in your faith and also compels you to pray with these new believers. The decision to be baptized and step into the water isn’t made lightly—but always with great joy.

“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

In Bangladesh, if baptisms are discovered, it could mean harsh and torturous persecution from family, locals and Islamic extremist groups. Yet, in this instance, many courageous men and women marched secretly to the water and declared “Jesus is Lord.” They arose as living testimonies and left their past beliefs behind like dirty rags.

Being a Christian in Syria can equate to harassment, beatings and isolation. But God is still on the move. 16 men and women—part of the Syrian church—took a hidden retreat to the mountains of neighboring Lebanon. On a sunny, Sunday morning, one by one, each of the 16 Syrians took their turn, walked down the stairs into a swimming pool, claimed Christ as King in baptism and came out of the water to thunderous applause from their new family in Him.

Being a Christian in Syria can equate to harassment, beatings and isolation. But God is still on the move. Our local partners shared photos of the day that 16 men and women—part of the Syrian church—took a hidden retreat to the mountains of neighboring Lebanon. On a sunny, Sunday morning, one by one, each of the 16 Syrians took their turn, walked down the stairs into a swimming pool, claimed Christ as King in baptism and came out of the water to thunderous applause from their new family in Him.

Even through a military coup, hundreds keep coming to Christ in Myanmar. The military purposely bombs churches and strips Christians of any resources, leaving them with nothing to live on, but there is no force that can stop God’s work. While threat of death looms, dozens upon dozens continue to accept Jesus as their Savior and follow His command of baptism behind closed doors.

Talitha* lives in Central Asia where none of her family are Christians. But through a series of “chance” meetings and underground connections, the 17-year-old discovered Jesus. This past Christmas Eve—aware that her restricted relationship with Jesus could mean banishment from her home and community—Talitha was baptized and continues to celebrate Christ as her one true Hope.

At a secret meeting of a church in north Syria, 24 Kurdish believers were baptized. They chose to give their lives to Jesus, regardless of the danger they may face because of this decision. Pray that these new believers will be strong in the face of all persecution they will face because of their decision. Pray that this church is able to spread the Word of God to many more.

Even through a military coup, hundreds keep coming to Christ in Myanmar. The military purposely bombs churches and strips Christians of any resources, leaving them with nothing to live on, but there is no force that can stop God’s work. While threat of death looms, dozens upon dozens continue to accept Jesus as their Savior and follow His command of baptism behind closed doors.

One of our local partners recently witnessed a secret baptism on the Arabian Peninsula. We can’t disclose the country or faces of these Christians because where these new believers live, this step of baptism is extremely dangerous. Leaving Islam to follow Jesus places them and their families at risk each day.

Despite widespread and deadly flooding in Malaysia, five new believers dedicated themselves to Christ through baptism. “To hear from three pastors that a lot of [these believers] are beginning to grow so much in their faith—and have shared the faith with their neighbors, too—[is fantastic],” shares Mikal, a local partner of Open Doors.

In the southern Philippines, 39 youths braved rocky seas on a boat to attend discipleship training at a house church in a remote area. Their decision to leave Islam and follow Jesus was a gigantic step in their lives. At the end of the weekend, 18 of them took another leap and were baptized. Making a public declaration of their decision to follow Jesus strengthens them as many return to families and communities who will not celebrate their newfound faith.

A clean heart in a dirty pool

Our field shared amazing photos from Central Asia where new believers were baptized in an undisclosed place. If caught, they risk fines, exile from their country and even attack. Pray with these new family members as they risk so much to follow Jesus.

 

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